Any public speaking involves delivering information to people who are, in one way or another, waiting to get some information. This is a key reason why you should pay careful attention as you prepare to make you speech and as you plan to meet your audience.
Some people are naturals at public speaking and getting to audiences, you may think of politicians or a good college professor you took some classes with, the fact of the matter is most people are not good at making speeches and the vast majority of people are terrified of delivering a speech. This should not discourage you in any way, since many experts have studied this and worked hard for you to deal with these problems in speech making.
If you are at a point that you are going to deliver a speech, you probably got to a stage in your life your thoughts are worth something to other people, this means that in principle, people want to get into your head and they appreciate your talent or skill in some particular field, the people that will listen to you have something to learn from you. But you are not thinking of these people, are you? You are thinking of the few people that probably know more than you and will be in the crowd. This is a big mistake, first because you should think of the person that will profit from your knowledge and get to him, and secondly because you have something in you that will benefit even the ones that you fear.
The key to all this is simple, its preparation, its the most basic, banal and trivial thing, but it is the base of any success in any field. Lets think about speech making preparation.
First think about your audience, who is the average person coming to your speech, what does he know, what does he need to know, what will inspire him and make him listen carefully to what you have to say, and how will you get him to appreciate your speech. It is not that difficult, its actually good to start at this point, remember people want to know what you are thinking, you just need to keep them interested, and I am sure you got interesting thoughts.
Rehearse, this seems clear to me, practice the speech again, and again, and again. Obviously I know that you dont have all the time in the world to perfect it, but, there is a value to this, timing your speech, and pre setting spots in which you know you need to change your tone, your speed and rhythm, will make you a better speaker and a better speech planner. So rehearse your speech and listen to yourself while doing it. Start strong, confident, talk about things you know no one can beat you or undermine you, let the confidence and the experience shine through, people feel that, and if you do this right, you will own your audience.
Think about your entrance and the first 3 minutes of the speech, pay attention to the way you walk in, project confidence and calm, do not rush into anything, even if you are late or under a tight schedule do everything slowly and thoughtfully, show the room that you are entering your speech zone and that no one is allowed in, they can sit and wait for a few seconds (which seem like hours) its only a few seconds. Make sure you got the attention of the crowd, and start strong. Pick the words of your opening carefully, and trust yourself.
In the next article I will review more of the speech making basics. Good luck.